FCC Fines Bailey Cable Over Retrans Status
The FCC has fined a small cable operator for continuing to offer the Fox and NBC affiliates in the Baton Rouge, La. market shows in violation of retransmission consent rules. Bailey Cable TV kept the stations on air without a carriage deal for over a month, bringing a $30,000 penalty.
Bailey can appeal the ruling, where fines are for $15,000 per station. A call to the cable operator, based in Mississippi, was not immediately returned Friday.
Three-year carriage deals for the stations expired at the end of 2011, but Bailey did not take them off on Jan. 1, 2012. A new deal was reached on Feb. 3. According to the FCC, Bailey does not dispute the facts, but believes the FCC should only be assessing it for one violation and not two, which brings a “double penalty.”
The Communications Corp. of America (ComCorp) runs both stations. It owns the Fox station (WGMB) and operates the NBC station (WVLA) for Knight Broadcasting of Baton Rouge. Consultant Duane Lammers negotiated carriage deals for the two stations.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has suggested the bureau may look into rules that allow for shared services agreements, where companies can negotiate package deals that can give stations leverage.
ComCorp negotiator Lammers works with Silver Point Capital, which owns both ComCorp and Granite Broadcasting.
As the WGMB and WVLA owners pursued action against Bailey Cable, the cable operator’s executive David Bailey suggested ComCorp was looking to use the FCC as a “tool to negotiate a dramatic increase in rates that are unacceptable in the private marketplace.”
According to a filing by ComCorp, David Bailey sent an offer to the company on Jan. 4, 2012 that ComCorp rejected because it was not “consistent with marketplace conditions.”
ComCorp owns or operates 25 stations in 10 markets in Lousiana, Texas and Indiana.